The (Un)Happy Hooker 

Red Light Winter: A Prostitute Is Rarely the Solution to Your Problems

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SOMETIMES ONE good performance is enough to save a show, and such is the case with Red Light Winter, the debut production from Bad Badger Productions. As one wobbly side of a dysfunctional love triangle, Andrew Bray gives a remarkably intelligent, natural performance that's perfectly calibrated to the intimate confines of the Brooklyn Bay theater space.

Bray plays Matt, a squirrelly young writer who's too smart for his own good, prone to nervousness and still recovering from a bout of giardia that left him skinny and shaky. He doesn't exactly seem the type to guiltlessly enjoy a random sexual encounter, but on a trip to Amsterdam, his friend Davis (Brian Allard) buys him the prettiest prostitute in the whole red light district—Christina (Jenn Gartner), a cool young woman with a suspiciously terrible French accent. Matt promptly falls for her, hard; Christina, meanwhile, is fascinated by Davis, who's all cocky confidence and masculine bluster.

Romantic obsession, playwright Adam Rapp points out, reflects more on the obsessor than the obsessee—Matt doesn't know Christina, not really, though once he returns to New York he clings to the memory of their night together like a very slutty souvenir. Maybe we always fall for an image of a person, rather than the person themselves—Red Light Winter forces its characters to confront their illusions about each other, and the results are brutal. Bray's performance anchors the show, but the other two actors seem at times to be in a different production altogether, content to play the surfaces of their characters without ever exploring what really makes them tick.

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